Adult With Autism: Sleep Problems

I have had problems with sleeping my whole life, it’s something that is one of the few constants in my life and I’m pretty sure it’s something that is going to always be a part of my life. I have gotten used to it and the persistent state of tiredness. Mix that with (currently undiagnosed) ADHD and you have a recipe for disaster.

Well, not disaster as that would mean actually having the energy to create something diastrous!

My current phase of sleep is that I am not tired at night (or my mind is refusing to admit I am like some 5 year old fighting against bedtime) so I don’t get to sleep until around midnight. Then I wake up anywhere between 5am and 7:30am. 7:30am is when my alarm is set so I at least know I am not going to oversleep. Then I spend all of my day feeling exhausted, not getting much done, not being able to concentrate on anything etc. Seriously, I nearly poured half a bag of sugar into my cup of tea instead of filling up the sugar pot a couple of days ago and then I got myself comfy and ready to attempt some writing, went to drink my tea but it wasn’t there and I had actually left it in the kitchen. These little incidents happen nearly daily for me now.

And the problem with me actually getting to sleep is something I have struggled with all my life. I appear t be the only person I know, although I don’t know a lot of people, that has to concentrate to get to sleep. I envy those people that can just shut there eyes and drift off, the people who are asleep within a minute of closing their eyes. My boyfriend is one of these people and, during moments of sleep-deprived jealousy, I have often felt like flicking his nose or something to wake him up. If I can’t sleep then you should keep me company! (I joke, I would never do that, he needs his beauty sleep).

My method for getting to sleep is something that has evolved over the years from an exercise I remember my mum helping me with (I’ll have to ring her and clarify when she taught me this as it is a distant memory). I have to close my eyes and concentrate on blocking out any background noise so that I am forcing myself to hear nothing. Then I needed to think about something that made me happy. It’s a more detailed, slight variation, of counting sheep. Instead of the counting, which would make me more awake, it’s remembering something happy and going over the details of the happy memory. At the time, as a young child, all I thought of was birthdays. I have always enjoyed birthdays because I got cake, would see all my favourite people, and do what I wanted practically all day and then be exhausted at the end of it and be able to sleep. So thinking about a day that would exhaust me also made me feel exhausted and I would be able to get to sleep. Somewhere along the line the memory disappeared and I end up picturing a black background and the word ‘birthdays’ instead. I have to concentrate on this to be able to get to sleep, without doing so I can not sleep at all.

Then we move onto when I am actually asleep. My mind doesn’t shut off like a lot of peoples do. This means when I am sleeping it is still firing away as though I am half awake, resulting in bizarre dreams and, even worse, terrifying nightmares. Some nights I am lucky and I don’t have either of these but that’s less nights than when I actually do have them. Sleeping doesn’t provide me with the amount of rest I need meaning I usually need to sleep more than 8 hours to be able to get anything done in a day and I am tired constantly. I can’t actually remember the last time I didn’t feel tired.

At this point in my life I haven’t found a viable solution. One previous visit to a GP had them contact the sleep centre and I was sent some very strong tablets. I never tried them as I needed to take a week off work and have someone with me for as much as possible as the side effects when first starting them could be quite severe and I wasn’t able to do that at the time. No other solutions have ever been given to me despite my many conversations with various Drs, counselors etc. I have looked into the possibility of taking melatonin and I actually meant to mention that to the Dr last time I spoke but, in a wonderful storyline plot twist, I forget because I was tired!

For the moment I enjoy the days I am in so much pain that I need to take co-codamol as they are so strong they make me fall asleep without having to try or the nights when my anxiety is high so that I can take one of my anxiety meds and that helps me fall asleep. I hope t have some update in the future that will include a breakthrough moment and I will have this sleeping malarky cracked.

 

This weeks One Awesome Autistic YouTube videos:

An update vlog as thinks are starting to happen in my life: https://youtu.be/ryuaznZ-59U

Previous weeks videos:

Getting to know me vlog, I answer 10 questions: https://youtu.be/RViPjlVohsY

All about Echolalia: https://youtu.be/IYtsJz55lhs

Author: AdultsWithAustism

I decided I wanted to do something positive with my life and speak out about what it feels like to be an adult with autism.

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